It was announced today that David Beckham is leaving Real Madrid and has signed a 5-year contract to play for the Major League Soccer team L.A. Galaxy. Generally such sports announcements don't really rate a reaction from me, but this news excited me. I like soccer, but really don't have the time, energy, or patience to follow anything but the World Cup. However, seven and a half years ago, I lived in London for four short, glorious months and he played for Manchester United and was just beginning his climb to the superstardom he enjoys today. So my memories about London are inextricably linked with the idea of David Beckham. Plus, I think he is an excellent player. Finally, the signing of such a star to an American soccer league kind of blew my mind. In my compartmentalized head, it is akin to Tony Blair accepting a seat in the U.S. Senate. Two worlds, although similar and connected, are colliding.
Sure, there are some downsides, like the fact that the Beckhams will now be a prime target for the U.S. paparazzi and tabloids, which means I will be sick of the sight of them in six months to a year. It also means that Beckham is getting older and his career is waning. He is still an excellent player, but I think most people would agree the best is probably behind him. It was a brilliant strategic move, career-wise, as he becomes the hero of a new, growing league rather than making way for new, younger up-and-comers in Europe. But even with all that cynical analysis, I'm still giddy. David Beckham is playing in the U.S.!